Best practice in transparency, traceability and accountability

YACAO is a subsidiary of the Suisse company PRONATEC. It started as a project in the Yamasá region of the Dominican Republic in 1999, aiming at producing high-quality cocoa for export while providing poor smallholders with a sustainable income. Today, YACAO buys cocoa from more than 2,000 small-scale farmers throughout the country. All of them are either already organically certified or in transition to organic production. At the BIOFACH 2020 congress session "Fraud, gaps and loopholes: private and public counteractions and enforcement to complement regulations", Beat Wiederkehr, general manager of YACAO, presented together with his consultant Roman Hipper why YACAO is a best practice model when it comes to transparency, traceability and accountability among grower groups.

In order to get ahead of potential fraudulent behaviour, YACAO decided to digitalize substantially so that the time between an inspection and the corresponding information being available to the management can be shortened. Therefore, YACAO started a strategic alliance with Organic Services. By using Organic Services' ICS-tool Group Integrity, working closely together with CERES and by developing some internal applications together with Hipper consult, the company managed to gain control from the farm to the vessel.

Successes from the digitalisation initiative:

  • YACAO can produce digital and physical traceability at any time and at any point of the supply chain
  • The company can respond to integrity issues within 24-48 hours (before the digitalisation, this usually took 30-45 days) and "sinners" can be sanctioned immediately
  • There is less time investment needed for the Internal Control System. As a consequence, more time can be spend on training farmers and supplier
  • Producers will be empowered to use the applications themselves
  • YACAO is now able to respond quickly to new requirements, such as regulatory changes
  • The fulfilment of the maximum certified quantities can be easily monitored to prevent fraud
  • Farms can be geo-tagged and motorcycles of internal inspectors are GPS-tracked to proof that they have actually been at the inspection site
  • The platform allows to easily add new products and to certify against new standards
  • The company is ready for sustainable further growth


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